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'Bubba Ho-Tep' is thin fare for a 'king'

October 03, 2003|Kevin Thomas | Times Staff Writer

The limp spoof "Bubba Ho-Tep" imagines that Elvis Presley (Bruce Campbell) is alive and residing in the Shady Rest Convalescent Home in Mud Creek, Texas. It seems that, tiring of his life as the King of rock 'n' roll, he got an Elvis impersonator named Sebastian Haff to switch places with him years before his "death," which enabled him to continue performing but without the drugs, the hangers-on, the Colonel and the burdens of celebrity.

One night 20 years ago, he suffered a fall from the stage, breaking a hip, which became infected. Consequently, as Sebastian he wound up at Shady Rest getting around with a walker.

As it happens, an Egyptian mummy is touring museums across the country when it is stolen from an institution not far from Mud Creek.

The thieves' old bus gets caught up in a storm, the bus winds up in a river and the mummy's coffin pops open, freeing Bubba Ho-Tep to roam the countryside in search of souls to steal.

Elvis, who has had plenty of time to ponder his professional and personal regrets, sees his chance at redemption in destroying Bubba Ho-Tep, aided by his Shady Rest pal (Ossie Davis), who believes he is JFK dyed to look like an African American.

Outside of an infestation of giant killer cockroaches at Shady Rest, "Bubba Ho-Tep's" writer-director Don Coscarelli, maker of such potent cult films as "Phantasm" and "The Beastmaster," fails to come up with enough incidents and action to make this overly leisurely picture the zany fun it means to be. Campbell, a believable Elvis at age 68, and Davis get into the spirit of the occasion, but there's not enough going on for them to save the day.


'Bubba Ho-Tep'

MPAA rating: R for language, sexual content and brief violent images

Times guidelines: Acceptable for mature teens

Discussion: Bruce Campbell will participate in a discussion after the 7:30 and 10 p.m. screenings today at the Nuart; and after the 2 p.m. screening Saturday in Irvine.

Bruce Campbell...Elvis Presley

Ossie Davis...Jack

Ella Joyce...Nurse

Heidi Marnhout...Callie

Bob Ivy...Bubba Ho-Tep

A Vitagraph Films release. Writer-director Don Coscarelli; based on the short story by Joe R. Lansdale. Producers Jason R. Savage, Coscarelli. Cinematographer Adam Janiero. Editors Donald Milne, Scott J. Gill. Music Brian Tyler. Costumes Shelley Kay. Production designer Daniel Vecchione. Running time: 1 hour, 32 minutes.

Exclusively at the Nuart, 112272 Santa Monica Blvd., West Los Angeles, (310) 281-8223; and the University 6, Campus Drive, across from UC Irvine, (800) FANDANGO No. 143.

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